Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica is visiting Eritrea today, where he launches an initial €20 million project to rebuild the road connection between the Ethiopian border and Eritrean ports.
During his visit, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica meets with the President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki to discuss the situation in the region and explore ways for the EU and Eritrea to step up political relations and dialogue on matters of concern to both sides.
On this occasion, Commissioner Mimica said: “The European Union is committed to support Eritrea and Ethiopia in delivering their historic peace agreement, which ended twenty years of conflict. To back this, we are launching a €20 million programme to rebuild the roads connecting both countries. This will boost trade, consolidate stability, and have clear benefits for the citizens of both countries through the creation of sustainable growth and jobs.”
The new project will be financed through the EU Trust Fund for Africa and through the United Nation’s Office for Project Services (UNOPS). It will rehabilitate road connections between the Ethiopian border and Eritrean ports to boost trade and create jobs. This is the first phase of a broader support to Eritrea, which is planned to scale up later this year.
This co-operation is part of the EU’s new dual track approach of strengthening political dialogue with Eritrea, notably encouraging political and economic reforms and improvement of human rights, as well as pursuing development cooperation to tackle root causes of poverty, and to reinforce the peace agreement and economic integration.
In July last year, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed an historic peace agreement ending 20 years of conflict. This provides a major opportunity for economic development and stability in the region. The rapprochement has already yielded benefits for the Eritrean population, with re-opened borders, resumed communication and the reduction in the price of basic commodities.
One of the commitments of the peace agreement is that ‘transport, trade and communications links between the two countries will resume’. To achieve this requires rehabilitating the main arterial roads between the Ethiopian border and the Eritrean port of Massawa, which is the focus of this road project.
G20 leaders united to address major global pandemic and economic challenges
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, represented the EU at the 15th G20 Leaders’ summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on 21-22 November 2020.
G20 leaders met in virtual format to address the way forward how to tackle together the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, finance the development and deployment of a vaccine as well as continue the support to citizens and businesses struggling to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic.
President von der Leyen said: “I am glad that G20 leaders agreed to make Covid-19 vaccines available and affordable for all. But more funding is needed. This is why I called G20 Leaders to commit to fund 4.5 billion US dollars for the ACT-Accelerator by the end of the year. G20 leaders also agreed to maintain economic measures until the recovery is firmly on the way. As a lesson from the crisis we need to step up global preparedness. We will discuss this again in May 2021 at the joint G20 Global Health Summit in Italy. To build back a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient world we also need to step up actions to fight climate change. The EU leads the way to climate neutrality by 2050 and many G20 partners now have taken the same commitments.”
G20 leaders also discussed how to build back better and pave the way for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future. President Michel said: “COVID-19 has come as a surprise to many of us. But it is not the first global pandemic. And sadly, it will not be the last. Looking ahead, the global community has to be better prepared for pandemics. An international Treaty on Pandemics could help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner when they occur. It should be negotiated with all UN organizations and agencies, in particular the WHO. The WHO must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies.”
They also discussed a number of other crucial global issues such as the economic recovery, the reform of the WTO, the taxation of the digital economy and how to support low-income countries.
Following the two days Summit, Leaders adopted the G20 Riyadh Declaration to address common global challenges.
On COVID-19, the EU championed a multilateral solution to the coronavirus pandemic. EU leaders called on the G20 to uphold and deepen its commitment to fight the COVID-19 crisis, notably by ensuring the affordable and equitable access for all people of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) initiative and its COVAX facility are the main tools to do so.
On climate change, the Summit agreed on a unified paragraph in the G20 Riyadh Declaration, after three consecutive G20 Summits where such consensus could not be reached. EU leaders urged all G20 members to work towards the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. The EU also promoted a recovery based on green, inclusive, sustainable, resilient and digital growth in line with the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.
On debt relief for the most fragile countries, Leaders reconfirmed their support through the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative that will provide debt relief and free resources to fight the pandemic. They committed to implementing the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) including its extension through June 2021. EU leaders stressed that additional steps might be needed, and the Summit endorsed a common multilateral framework for further debt treatments.
On trade and taxation of the digital economy, Leaders recalled their support to the WTO reform process in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference and recognized the contribution that the Riyadh Initiative on the Future of the WTO has made. They also agreed to strive to find a consensus-based solution for a globally fair, sustainable, and modern international tax system by mid-2021, built on the ongoing work of the OECD.
Over €280 million in EU funding for environment, nature and climate action projects
The European Commission has approved an investment package of more than €280 million from the EU budget for over 120 new LIFE programme projects. This EU funding will trigger total investments of nearly €590 million to help meet these projects’ ambitious goals for environment, nature, and climate action. This amount represents a 37% rise compared to last year.
The projects will help to achieve the European Green Deal objectives by supporting the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Circular Economy Action Plan, contributing to the green recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, and helping Europe become a climate-neutral continent by 2050, among others. Many of the new projects are cross-country projects involving several Member States.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal said: “The European Green Deal is our roadmap to a green, inclusive, and resilient Europe. LIFE projects epitomise these values as they bring together Member States for the protection of our environment, the restoration of nature, and support of biodiversity. I’m looking forward to the results of these new projects.”
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries added: “LIFE projects can really make a tangible difference on the ground. They bring solutions to some of the most serious challenges of our time such as climate change, loss of nature and unsustainable use of resources. If replicated across the EU at speed and scale, they can help the EU achieve its ambitious EU Green Deal goals and contribute to building a greener and more resilient Europe for all of us, but also for generations to come.”
Approximately €220 million are allocated to a wide range of projects on environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information and over €60 million to support climate change mitigation, adaptation and governance and information projects.
This includes major investments aimed at protecting and enhancing Europe’s biodiversity. Projects such as restoring peatlands – unique ecosystems home to many highly adapted, rare and threatened species – will contribute to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Peatlands are also an important carbon sink, and can boost Europe’s drive toward climate neutrality by 2050.
The LIFE projects also support reducing energy consumption in new buildings, in line with the recently launched EU Renovation Wave Strategy. Funds will go into developing universal and affordable low-carbon solution that could reduce energy consumption in all new buildings by up to 40%.
Funds will also go towards projects that prevent food waste and lead to improved waste management in line with the new EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan.
Financial resources are also being earmarked for numerous projects that will help energy-intensive industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Commission’s ambitious Climate Target Plan and our climate neutrality objective.
The numbers in brief
- 34 LIFE nature & biodiversity projects will support the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030. They have a total budget of €221 million, of which the EU will pay €133 million.
- 47 LIFE environment and resource efficiency projects will mobilise €208 million, of which the EU will provide €76 million. These projects cover actions in five areas: air, environment and health, resource efficiency and circular economy, waste, and water.
- 8 LIFE environmental governance and information projects of nearly €17 million with just over €9 million EU contribution will raise awareness of environmental issues among the wider public and help public authorities to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with EU environmental legislation.
- 16 LIFE climate change mitigation projects will have a total budget of approximately €86 million, of which just under €32 million from the EU.
- 15 LIFE climate change adaptation projects will mobilise €50 million, €26 million of which will come from EU funds.
- 3 LIFE climate governance and information projects will improve governance and raise awareness about climate change with a total budget of €7 million of which the EU is contributing just under €4 million.
Project descriptions and more details can be found in the Annex to this press release.
The projects were selected among more than 1250 applications submitted under the LIFE 2019 call for proposals, published in April 2019. The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 5 500 projects across the EU and in third countries. At any given moment, some 1 100 projects are in progress. The budget for 2014–2020 is set at €3.4 billion in current prices. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to increase LIFE funding by almost 60%.
Commission holds first meeting of EU COVID-19 national scientific advice platform
President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Member States’ COVID-19 scientific advisors to the first meeting of the EU scientific advice platform on COVID-19. The platform will facilitate more co-ordinated scientific advice on the approach to Member State COVID-19 public health measures across the EU. It complements the President’s COVID-19 advisory panel and the work of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Today’s meeting was chaired by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, with Professor Peter Piot, Special Advisor to the President on COVID-19, also in attendance.
The scientific advisors discussed the most effective settings for the use of rapid antigen tests and the most effective application of isolation and quarantine to control the spread of the virus. Their discussions on these and future items will inform the content and co-ordination of EU and Member State policy, and complements existing sources of scientific advice from EU agencies and other sources.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “To beat coronavirus, we need the best scientists to join forces and find solutions against this virus, fast. This is why we are bringing together Europe’s top scientific advisors to debate and advise on the best way ahead on matters such as testing or isolation. This will help identify the most effective measures and will boost a coordinated approach across the European Union.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said:” Since the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, the most significant challenge has been the coordination of national measures. Today’s launch of the scientific platform with top advisors from all our Member States will play a crucial role in ensuring that important decision on measures that affect the daily lives of our citizens, such as testing or quarantines, are based on the best available scientific knowledge and are well coordinated across the Union.”
President von der Leyen and the EU-27 leaders will discuss the outcomes of the first platform meeting during their videoconference, 19 November.
During their videoconference on 29 October, EU heads of state or government and President von der Leyen decided to set up the platform, which will meet on a regular and as necessary basis. The platform complements the advisory panel set up by the Commission on 17 March 2020 to formulate science-based EU response guidelines and coordinate risk management measures.
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